May 2018

Taking these supplements? Be careful in the sun

With summer comes more time in the sun. We should all be vigilant about protecting the skin from sun exposure, regardless of the supplements we are taking. But some supplements in particular might make you even more prone to sunburn.

Alpha hydroxy acids are a common ingredient in scrubs, lotions, and creams used for wrinkles. While they might be beneficial for reducing wrinkles, they seem to increase people's sensitivity to the sun. They also might INCREASE skin damage. Similarly, applying bergamot, lemon oil, or lime oil might also increase sensitivity to the sun, especially in people with fair skin. People using these and other supplements that increase sun sensitivity should always apply broad spectrum, water or sweat resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or greater.

In addition to topical treatments, people taking oral supplements containing St. John’s wort should be extra careful with sun exposure. Taking as little as 1.8 grams of St. John's wort extract daily appears to increase photosensitivity, especially in women. This amount of St. John's wort is commonly used for depression, anxiety, and several other conditions. 

For details on more supplements that might have similar effects, check out our chart of photosensitizers.

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